Re: A Mythbusters ending!
"A Mythbusters ending! "
Or just a form of cosmic litter dropping by people who should know better.
4091 posts • joined 1 Jun 2012
"A Mythbusters ending! "
Or just a form of cosmic litter dropping by people who should know better.
Nope, it's a late model Spit. And I'll wager it's the BBMF's mark 16.
"it still doesn't make jokes about invading Poland any fresher. Please, get some new material for all our sakes."
What you want Germany to do something that we can joke about for another seventy years?
"You drop the thermostat to 15℃ when you are out. Eventually, your house will get to 15℃ and your heat loss rate will be two thirds of what it would have been. But, until it gets to that temperature the reduction of your heat loss is less than a third. And when the heating goes back on, it has to work harder to raise the temperature of the house."
That sounds suspiciously like the common argument that "if you turn the heating off, it uses more energy to warm the place up" which is simply untrue (and in any event, a higher delta on the primary and return heating circuits would actually make most heating systems MORE efficient, not less). Unless you've got a poorly insulated high thermal mass house, then any half decent boiler can easily warm the house up in a few minutes, and there's no reason to set it for 15C when you're not there - why pay to keep the cats warm when they've got fur coats? In a well insulated house even turning the heating down by a few degrees will cause the boiler to turn off for a fairly protracted length of time, so you wouldn't be using gas at two thirds the rate you were in your example, even though that would be the case over a more extended time period. Potentially 10-15% of your total heating bill is being spent on eight hours a day or so of 15C heating of an empty house.
A well set up heating system should (typically) see the CH go off twenty minutes before the house becomes vacant. With perhaps sixteen hours of daily occupancy, that twenty minutes is 2% of your space heating energy use. If the system is properly configured, then it would come on ***just*** in time to raise the temperature to the desired level for occupants coming home. If that's only ten minutes difference, you've saved another 1% of your heating bill. Now, if you vary the heating by time of day when you're in, then you're probably cutting around a further 7% from your heating costs (when you're active you can run a lower temperature and still be comfortable).
You can do all this yourself with a dumb-ish programmable thermostat and time (I've had this for two decades), but it's a pain to set up. A good smart thermostat will do all of that for you with minimal effort, and for many people can save more than 20% of their heating costs for no change in comfort. Stuff the tree hugging issues, and look at it as an economic and practical investment, and there's relatively few scenarios where a smart thermostat doesn't make sense, particularly if you do your research and avoid the crummy "me-too" smart thermostats rushed to market by some makers. Arguably the optimal solution is a Nest. Install, let it get settled in, then when it is working to your satisfaction stop it connecting to your wifi if you've got privacy concerns.
"Or get an electric shower."
If you enjoy flow rates equal to being pissed on in winter, when the incoming supply is 4C or less. Electric showers would be great if you could get them to run at ratings of 20kW....
"most people don't have / or want to develop that discipline even when its costing them money"
The problem is the level of discipline and application needed to properly set up a heating and HW system optimised for maximum efficiency with a given comfort envelope. The failure over countless years of heating controls manufacturers to solve the complexity problem created the opportunity for Nest. Anybody's who's tried setting a typical programmeable thermostat and a separate heating & HW control timer will know what a PITA they are to set up.
Why should people have to be rocket scientists just to get the heating to work well and efficiently? That's not really a lack of discipline, it's a supply chain failure to give them the tools to do it, right up until the former Apple guys decided to fix the problem with Nest.
Going out on a limb here (having no central heating at all, I don't know) but does it really make much difference turning the temperature down when you're out?
Yes! Bad advice from Bassey's dodgy plumber notwithstanding, this is simple physics.
Your heating bill is driven by the heat loss from your house. The rate of loss is set by the standards of insulation, but if you see those as set, then your heat losses are proportional to the delta between inside and outside temperature, multiplied by how long the heating is maintaining that difference.
The daily savings from optimising the internal temp or running hours are generally pence per day, but if you can save 70p per day during the circa 190 heating days each year then you've got a two year cash payback.
Certainly if you've got programmeable TRVs or a programmeable house stat and they are properly set up (most aren't) then a smart thermostat won't save you much if anything. And if you are a miser who only has the system on when in the house, and always turns it off over night and when out of the house, again you won't save much. Away from those scenarios then a smart thermostat would probably give you a worst case four year to five payback: Where else will you get a minimum 20-25% rate of return on an investment?
I'm as sceptical as others that it would save much money.
Actually you stand a better chance of saving money in a less well insulated house, because your heat loss rate is greater, so the relative savings by reducing temperature when possible are higher than in a well insulated house.
The major US and UK ones, yes. It's the minor players, the Europeans and Russkies that are "a problem".
It seems logical that you shouldn't be using Kaspersky if you've anything to hide from the Russian authorities or their oligarch mates, but they should be a better bet than (say) Symantec if you wanted to reduce your exposure to snooping by the NSA.
A better approach than relying on security software to defend your secrets is to not connect your private computer systems to the internet. Whilst there's plenty of ways of bridging an air gap, they are only likely to be used for known + high value targets.
Investigations are all good, can we actually see fines (and punitive ones too)
You could be in luck. The competition authorities aren't like the poodles of OFCOM, ICO or ASA, and believe in issuing big fines. In this first instance you might see only an instruction to desist, but if the law has been broken, or if instructions to desist are ignored they'll wrench a few arms out of sockets with multi-million quid fines.
How about they go to an actual problem, like companies who prey on elderly people with "YOU HAVE WON £50,000*" envelopes.
That's not a competition law problem, and wouldn't therefore be within the remit of the CMA.
the cheapest part of providing cable is the actual digging up of the roads/pavements, since this is the part no-one has tried to minimise
The issue with fitting services at time of construction is that the developers usually want a cut for the privilege of installing those services. In reality the marginal cost of a cable retrofit is largely the reinstatement of the paved surface when compared to laying in partially made ground of a housing development, and that marginal cost is only a few quid a meter. If the developer's co-operative, and doesn't want to fleece the cable provider then it would make sense, but those two conditions are rarely met.
"a potentially lucrative single block of 40 flats developed 1 year ago"
Flats can be a PITA to retrofit with any utility service. And since VM's penetration is around 1:6 properties passed IIRC, your 40 flats may only yield 5 paying customers. Installation and connection is going to have to be really cheap if that will pay off.
"explain to me why a reseller should police fake positive reviews?"
Because the competition authorities regard this sort of thing as anti-competitive, and trading standards officials would regard it as fraud? In the UK, our competition authorities are investigating fake reviews at the moment. As breaches of competition law often attract eye-watering fines, you'd think that the companies hosting the reviews might conclude that they are at risk of collusion charges simply by knowing of the risk and doing little or nothing.
"and OFCOM have repeatedly failed to tackle the issue"
Subtly different, but I notice that AT&T have just been fined $100m by US regulators for broadband throttling. That's how you bring telecoms companies to deliver what they promise.
An open question: Is OFCOM the worst, most toothless, limp-wristed regulator in the developed world, or is there somebody worse?
"It's the new world we live in."
Hardly new. This has been going on for years, and OFCOM have repeatedly failed to tackle the issue. Telecoms remains one of the worst sectors in the UK for customer-focused regulation, but I don't see that changing anytime soon.
"I get c. 480 kb/s download, 200 kb/s upload over ADSL 12 miles from Watford. I'm told it's due to the length of the last mile."
Some "last miles" are longer than others, obviously.
As usual OFCOM have messed up. What they should have done is given the customer a "walk away" clause, but also the option to pay pro-rate between the speed delivered and the maximum advertised speed for that technology (with no vendor cancellation option). You'd need a framework to make sure that the resellers could pass that price cut onto any guilty network operator. On that basis you could call BT and demand the price be reduced to about 50p a month.
"Aaarrghh! Aaarrghhhhhhh! OMG ! I'm crippled! Man down! Man down!"
""Yes, soldier, you've got carpal tunnel syndrome. I'm afraid it's the disabled parking bay and demobilisation for you."
"Drones may be cheap. Shooting misidentified civilians or friend ground forces is not."
I honestly think you've got that the wrong way round. In the very infrequent event that compensation is paid to foreign victims it will be paltry, perhaps a couple of thousand dollars, and as a general rule governments try to avoid paying any compensation for troops killed in official war scenarios, whether friendly fire or not.
As such, in the case of civilian or friendly casualties, the drone is the most expensive part, and the most expensive cost of the mission is the munitions. But compared to fast jets, drones are still cheap.
"Well, there's gratitude for you!"
I daresay the gratitude is measured in millions of dollars, accompanied by a 70 page NDA. I can't see Elop crying over his exit from Microsoft.
"roughly, it's a New Keynesian model"
Ah yes. The same POS model that says you can run a current account deficit forever without a problem, and that government can borrow during the good times, then borrow more during the bad times. And indeed posits that the cure for excessive borrowing is more borrowing. And when you can't borrow, you just QE some money out of nowhere.....
On a fairly related topic, I hope you're enjoying the Greek debt crisis as much as I am.
Great for Indian and Chinese peasants! Hoorah!
But the problem (for the US and the UK, amongst others) is the huge trade deficits they've incurred by giving offshoring a lot of previously domestic manufacturing to foreigners, and then pretending that a combination of locally traded services and a debt-funded government are a substitute for actual wealth creating activity. Admittedly the debt-fuelled purchase of foreign trinkets in the UK is contributor to the trade imbalances, but surely you, Mr Worstal would admit that (a) Britain is living far beyond its means, and (b) the offshoring of UK services and manufacturing is a significant contributor to that?
Ordinarily exchange rates and debt markets would resolve this problem for us, but with China's managed echange rates, the bizarre world of ZIRP and QE, and the fear of instability in a whole assortment of different markets, sterling has enjoyed a totally unwarranted buoyancy - in the words of Dr Tim Morgan, "the prettiest horse in the knacker's yard".
If we were operating balanced trade with our trading partners the "problem" of offshoring disappears, but we're a very long way from that, and that is part of the contribution to 1.5m unemployed and 2m "disabled", along with a load of over-rewarded jobs that don't materially generate wealth.
"The endless pursuit of punning and double-entre laden headlines grows wearisome very very quickly. "
Other web publications are available for those who don't like the things that make The Register what it is.
"Apart from anything else, it is infantile."
Shocking, truly shocking.
I know, that looks like a T28 or T29. Lovely, lovely little phone, with nothing on the market since that touched it for style. Even the Motorola V3 was big and charmless next to a T28.
Why is that these days dumbphones always look like refugees from 1999?
"Who are the sellers and who pre-approves them? "
Doesn't really matter, the suppliers are all resellers, and the business model is the same for all of them: Quote for all the core and clearly specified elements of a tender at lower margin than you need/want, in order to win the contract, then make the overall margin by inflating the prices for everything that the customer didn't specify in black and white. That can be fomalised as a ludicrous "non standard request" charge, where the request itself is the profit-earner rather than the actual item, it could be a "variation to contract", or it can just be an extortionate price for the item concerned. And where cr@p-headed procurement and finance procedures mandate the use of approved suppliers, they prevent people using common sense when the organisation is being fleeced.
I work in the private sector, for a very large company who has agreements with a huge telecoms provider and a US based ITO. Both are rapacious b@stards who charge the earth for every one of the multitude of things that our procurement and in-house IT didn't specify at the time, so the NHS may be doing poorly, but its not alone.
"I can see a place for them - emergency backup power doubling as a store for solar power to reduce 'normal' consumption."
It might reduce the owner's normal consumption, but that's just a way of milking more subsidy. In national terms using on site batteries would only reduce national consumption if you've got excess renewable capacity that has already displaced all marginal thermal plant.
That, sadly, is DECC's misplaced ambition, and it will shove UK power costs back up to the eye watering levels that triggered all the political grandstanding in 2013-14.
Looking on the bright side, presumably George Bush has got some single shoes that he could send this bloke? And on that point, is the bloke sure he hasn't thrown his own shoe at an American president and simply forgotten?
"Such is 'progress' beyond the utility vehicle, aca Land Rover, of the past."
What 'yer getting yer knickers in a twist for? 98% of these will be 2WD, so family hatchbacks with fractionally higher ground clearance than a similarly sized Golf. Nothing wrong with that in my book.
"So.. Brazilian electrician hurrying to work was shot dead for no reason."
With nine dum-dum bullets. Followed by a shameful inquest where the jury weren't allowed the verdict of "unlawful killing".
I suppose Matt-the-Tw** will be along any moment as official spokeswoman for the authorities, to explain how it was all totally justified, and to spout some weak technicality that "hollow point" rounds aren't dum-dum bullets, but the reality is that an innocent man was intentionally deprived of his life by a bunch of cowboys who have probably already retired at 50 on a fat, index linked pension.
"BUT i thought one of the goals of this smart meter roll out was to reduce peak demand so BEEEEELIONS don't need to be spent on new generating capacity as old coal fires stations go off line."
That's a subsidiary goal for smart meters - the overall belief of DECC is that they will magically reduce your total energy demand, reduce carbon and Save The Planet. Because, as with Paedo-druggy-terrorists, the job of government is to save us from something or anything. Whilst DECC don't like it, we'll always have system peaks, so there's some significant need for plant with low load factors. The hair-raising unit costs of real peaking plant that runs twice a year looks astronomical on paper, averaged over all energy consumption across the year it is piffling. This peaking cost will increase because of the idiot-conceived energy policy, but it still won't be umanageable (although the ever growing open and sudden subsidies for wind, solar, biomass may become unmanageable).
and that will be achieved by peak rate pricing so rates will no longer be fixed year round tariff.
That's a possible outcome. But unfortunately the War Against Peak Demand is (like the war on drugs) yesterday's war, and yesterday's lost war to boot. Looking forward, the eejuts of government plan to "decarbonise" transport and heating. At total energy volumes this means they are looking to at least double UK electricity demand (even assuming big efficiencies in heating and electric vehicles). After the closure of 12GW of coal plant under LCPD, and with something like 5-7 GW of older nuclear plant closing by 2023, there's an enormous squeeze coming in the mid to late 2020's that won't be fixed even if they build 3GW of over-priced French tat at Hinkley Point.
What this will mean is that transport and heating loads have to be scheduled to fit into off peak periods, because otherwise the peak demand on a winter evening would melt the system (even the old pre-renewables system). But you then have the problem that there will be huge random swings in electricity generation from all their stupid solar PV and wind, but that then starts to set random whole sale pricing - if the wind blows, wholesale prices fall. If it doesn't they go up. Extended PV build out will be able to meet most of mid-summers day demand - but that means you need low load factor flexible (ier thermally inefficient) plant to cover the 14 hours a day when the solar power output is low or non existent.
The whole of UK energy policy is a complete fucking mess, dreamt up by tree hugging cretins. The real answer to security of supply, emissions, and cost was always a national build out of nuclear, using thermal technology to bridge the fifteen year gap until you've developed the ability to build at a low enough cost. Hinkley Point is not part of this solution as it is a one off using the unproven and vastly expensive Areva EPR. And during the timescale of the current policy, the incompetent and traitorous duo of Brown and Blair sold Westinghouse to Toshiba, eliminating any possibility that we could deliver a new UK nuclear fleet through technology we had some control over, and since then we've thrown around £40bn at a rag-bag collection of low output, subsidy dependent "renewables".
Even now, a screeching U-turn could somewhat expensively expensively seize victory from the jaws of defeat (at the expense of tearing up some of the stupid treaties and EU agreements). But that's just not going to happen. The shallow, stupid timidity of politicians cannot be over-stated, so we will press on with this collection of vastly expensive policies that are doomed to fail.
It's enough to make you weep. Unless you're either a Graun-reading believer in all the cant about renewable energy, or somebody making millions selling "renewable" technologies to the feckless twerps of DECC.
"I imagine they are only really seriously considering power-line communications for the data transmission in the long run because of problems like this "
I seem to recall that they (DECC) hope to use the householder's own broadband via a home hub in these situations, but I can't be bothered to wade through the DECC propaganda and SMETS2 specifications to confirm that.
Whilst you could refuse to allow the connection, you are already at liberty to refuse a smart meter (or more correctly, you are at liberty to refuse a smart meter running in smart mode). It is somebody else's meter, and they can insist on installing a smart meter if they are willing to have it operating in dumb meter mode.
"The energy companies want to use this to supply more 'products' and 'offerings' to everyone. "
You've been getting your facts from the Daily Mirror again, haven't you?
Due to intervention by Vacuous Dave himself, energy companys' licences were amended so that by law the most they could offer at any one time was four tariffs for single rate and four for each other time banded tariff. No-flat rate tariffs were banned. Choice has intentionally been reduced because life was supposedly too complex (whereas the zillions of mobile phone tariffs didn't attract Call Me Dave's attention.
Smart meters won't sell any additional products and services (those are offered usually via the website to try and make up for the dismal margins that the commodity energy sales produce). The smart meters will be capable of complex time of use tariffs, but no supplier (to my knowledge) offers the sort of complex, risky, dynamic pricing that could be offered, and the most adventurous you're likely to be offered is a three rate meter (overnight, standard, peak). Maybe you want that, but our research says that people know they are buying a commodity, they will buy the cheapest they find on a comparison web site, and (as other posters have suggested) most don't want anything to do with their energy supplier: "I pay you, you get the bills rights, keep it simple and keep costs as low as you can, and that'll do me".
"The retail suppliers do all that stuff when they set their prices, but if they had compete with each other, we'd get better pricing out of them"
It is a commodity proposition. We get energy from the same wholesale market, meaning the technology mix of generation at point of sale is homogenised. Nobody will pay more for (eg) better customer service. Given that government have subsidised wind and solar, and mandated a certain proportion of energy to come from those, there's common subsidy costs. Networks businesses all have the same basic regulated business model.
There is competition, and that's driven the suppliers *controllable* costs down, and reduced profit margins, and it has kept those down. But it can't do anything about fixed system costs, about global energy costs, or about the subsidies and market distortions that exist. Different hedging or buying strategies mean that different companies are cheapest at different times. That is competition in real action - unlike most other markets where "brand" and IP are used to justify price differentials that would otherwise be eliminated by competition.
And it's strange, the average household communications spend is actually higher than the average household energy bills (£1,400/yr for communications, source OFCOM, £1,300/yr for energy, source DECC). Within that higher spend on comms, you have BT coining the money in on Openreach despite broadband complaints across the land, you have Apple making 60% gross margin on its puffed up handsets, and some nicely profitable MNOs despite their whingeing.
So if you want more competition in energy, it is possible but you won't see lower prices, as they are at the minimum economic level that the market can deliver within the rigged market that DECC have created.
"Remember Germany opted out of this EU requirement by stating it was uneconomical."
They did. But they are reconsidering that:
"The only Smart Meter that I would consider worth while would be one which compares the unit prices on offer from each supplier at different times during the day and auto switched supplier for me."
Well, ask OFGEM to mandate what they call "dynamic pricing". A smart meter can do this, even the skanky SMETS2 specification ones that DECC have mandated
Because of the way the wholesale markets work you will only have a rough idea what you'll be charged in advance, but a smart meter could avoid suppliers altogether - you pay whatever half hourly price the market is charging at wholesale. Obviously you'd need to contract your minimum capacity at system peaks (otherwise you'd be hit with vast "out of balance" charges at the price charged by rarely running system peaking plant) so there's a fixed charge for that generating capacity. Then you've got to pay your levies - all those subsidies for solar, biomass and wind have to come from your bills, along with climate change levy payments, carbon price floor payments, and transmission and balancing system costs. Of course if you're supplier free, you need to contract to hire your meter from a regulated provider, so don't forget that.
Then you need to pay for the LV distribution. This involves a capacity charge that you'd agree, that is set by by your maximum possible load (set by an MCB or a limit switch in the meter). Then there's the maximum load charge (separate from your capacity charge). If your household load is reactive there's extra charges for that. Then the distribution unit rate charges have three rates during the day that vary, and vary by DNO. And then there's fun like Load Adjustment Factors that operate across five daily and seasonally varied periods to reflect the system losses. If you're going down the "pay only what it costs" route, you'd also have to opt in to TRIAD payments, where there's an extra charge for your demand at the three peak periods within the year (which cannot be accurately predicted in advance). And a whole lot more besides.
Obviously you'll be paying a lot more in winter than in summer, and during the day whenever people want to use a lot of energy. And because of the way that the markets work, you'd need to post collateral if you want credit, so in practice this vastly complex structure would be pre-payment only. Given that most residential suppliers are making about 4% net margin, I'd suggest that's a small price for a flat rate, year round credit tariff.
"So why the fuck is the UK taxpayer paying for upgrades to the energy supply network of privately owned companies?"
Go and ask government and the EU. It's their rules, not anything the industry asked for. The cash savings from reducing manual meter reading is about £5 a year, that won't pay a quarter of the interest costs on a single smart meter, and specifying, buying, installing and maintaining the things is a headache we'd rather not have.
The only real benefit of smart meters is that we think that they'll greatly reduce the number of estimated bills (a big cause of inaccurate billing and out of kilter direct debits), and we think they should offer better control of bad debt, along with easier payments for people on pre-payment meters. That might be worth another £5 a year, so still only covering half the interest costs.
" is effectively the government giving a subsidy. It just goes direct from the customer to the supplier,"
Not to the suppliers - we just collect it. Although suppliers are obligated to install smart meters, the problem is that expected returns are too low for a non-infrastructure provider - our costs of capital are too high. That's why the financial services sector will clean up, because (very, very simplistically) debt is a liability for a commercial company, but it is an asset for financial services companies, because commercial businesses are expected to make money on trading, whereas FS companies make theirs from lending. So the balance sheet always balances, but a financial company will always look at the return on its small equity contribution, and uses a shed load of cheap debt to pay for the assets involved.
"The whole justification for this is complete nonsense."
Yes. The same sort of made up business case and impact assessment that has been used for things like HS2 and carbon taxes, is used to justify London airport expansion etc etc.
"When will the government and supply companies realise the average consumer simply wants to pay the minimum possible for each unit of power (whether electricity or gas) and preferably never speak to their supply company, let alone have a 'conversation' with them."
This is very well understood by the energy companies. This is why the customer service is poor, because although people will anecdotally say they will pay for better customer service, it is a pure commodity market, and nobody will actually put their hand in their pocket and pay the extra few quid per year that would get better customer service. Smaller companies with brand new systems clean databases, and lean management usually offer better performance whilst they are small, but as they grow their systems, processes and culture acquire a thick coating of cruft (so OVO and First Utility now have a higher number of pro-rata complaints to the Energy Ombudsman than say British Gas or EDF).
" the latest project is to subsidise shady energy companies so that they can put a shady smart meter into every household."
FFS, here we go again. Energy companies don't get any subsidy for this. We are legally obliged to do this by laws past under Blair/Brown, confirmed by the last government, and the costs go on your energy bill. Most energy suppliers don't want to own the smart meters themselves, so this will become a nice profit opportunity for a financial services company that can load up on cheap QE debt (Australian bank Macquarie are the most likely beneficiary).
The Reg have also got the wrong end of the stick, the install rate for meters at the moment is merely the "Phase 1" part. DECC's foolhardy intention is for real volume to be delivered from this year through to 2020, in a vast pell-mell rush that will see all manner of problems arise. When the suppliers have inevitably failed to dish out the government's dictated number of meters, then they will be subject to multi-million pound fines by OFGEM, which of course come out of customer's pockets.
You'll see this in due course, because suppliers were supposed to have all B2B customers on semi-smart ("AMR") meters by April of this year, three of them are deemed to have failed, and OFGEM's ponderous bureaucracy is now deliberating how much to extract in fines.
One stop shop? In a shop you usually have to pay. Here the Feds have given the data away.
Having said that, I wouldn't put it past the bureaucrats to have allowed this to happen because it can now be used to"justify" a vast increase in offensive operations against China et al, and it gifts them the ultimate budget defence of "of our budget gets cut we won't be able to secure your personal data".
Never forget that the purpose of a bureaucracy is quite singular, and that is to grow and sustain itself even at the expense of the host organism.
"The HIPPER cruisers were excellent designs (which didn't so much break the relevant naval treaties as crush them...) but weren't 'pocket battleships'. "
Correction accepted, but the Deutschland class cruisers didn't sink any Allied capital ships either.
"the whole home fleet chasing one pocket battleship (and losing a capital ship in the process"
As I recall, the Hipper-class cruisers (AKA "pocket battleships") never sank a capital ship, although I suspect you're referring to the Bismarck and Hood, a battle in which both navies lost their flagships. As with the Battle of Jutland, the outcome of the Bismarck encounter was a clear strategic win for the Royal Navy, even though tactically the best you could say was that it was a draw.
Ignoring the U-boats, the performance of the Kriegsmarine was dismal in WW2, despite well trained sailors and far better equipment than the Royal Navy had.
"Most Bank of England notes aren't legal tender in Scotland"
What about coins?
Particularly my planned Culloden pound coin? Gets at both the Andymurrays and the Frogs in one go.
What innovative, ground breaking must have technology does Twitter offers?
Oh ye of little faithe! Twitter is the innovative, ground-breaking system whereby the cretinous or simply vacuous can communicate planet-wide, without exposing their inability to compose a cogent message of more than thirty words, or risking breaking their own brains with major challenges like punctuation or grammar.
And likewise, those "millenials" and hipsters with an attention span that makes your average fly look like Stephen Hawking, where else could they go to suck on the teat of the "speek-your-braines" side of the internet without causing their own heads to explode?
Twitter is a technological marvel, for which we should be eternally grateful, sucking up huge volumes of drivel, like the internet's own cleaning sponge.
"This would appear to work only for a single pothole,...."
Alright, send an anonymous letter, signed "the Phantom Pot Hole Filler".
"Unfortunately I don't see how I can choose to spend my money on pot-hole repair."
I offer you a 90% guaranteed solution that involves a small amount of your money and a permanent repair:
When nobody's around, stick a bag of post-mix concrete in the hole. No skill or talent is required on your part other than common sense of not being seen, and not getting run over. Then, when the post-mix has set, phone the council reporting that persons unknown have done a DIY pothole repair that you don't think is safe, and they'll be out like a shot to fix it, not because of the safety issue (as the original pothole was probably a bigger concern) but because somebody has infringed their monopoly of fixing potholes (or not).
"...but what gets dropped?"
Cookery, physical education, religious education, "textiles", PSHE, "citizenship". Or if that offends too many people, let kids choose two of those at most. In my local schools this would free up about two and a half hours a week.
Music and all Languages should also be optional - there's real benefit teaching the interested and capable, but zero benefit trying to teach the uninterested and untalented (which I was for both of those).
"Well, the F-35 program gives a lot of jobs to engineers and the like. "
I'd suggest the jobs the US needs are commercial jobs paying a decent breadwinner salary, and that means they need to be core manufacturing and skilled service sector that contribute to the productive commercial economy, not a handful of well paid people working out more expensive ways of killing other people, as part of large corporations entirely dependent upon the Defense department's gravy train.
Funny thing is I can remember why the USSR collapsed. In a nut shell, because it spent all its money on an overly large military, and used all its R&D skills to design new weapons, until it got to the point that the productive economy simply couldn't pay the tab anymore. Having bankrupted the Soviet threat, all the Star Wars defence spending should have been canned. But instead of a peace dividend, all the American people got was more defence spending and more wars.
A long line of empires have been built and perished in this way, and the US empire is currently on the well worn step marked "hubris and overstretch". The one thing that you can say about the US empire is that it was built and lost far more quickly than any before it.
"Rurally, cabling is less likely to be subject to vandalism."
I'd have thought that the key challenge was accidental damage from vehicles parking on the verge, road accidents that chew the verge up, grass cutting, ditch clearance and drainage work, hedgerow cutting, and other causes like road repair plant and construction materials dumped on the verge.
I'd guess that makes for a very high revenue cost for repairs, even if the cabling is modest lengths with plug and socket terminations.
"I expect BT will be saving as much money as possible to store up a war chest to defend against a Deutsche Telekom takeover"
But not too much. All the board will want is a war chest sufficient to mount a credible feint, such that DT increase the buy off payments to persuade the directors to recommend the offer. The verminous directors who sold Cadbury's to a maker of burger cheese have shown how this is done.
In all respects, the congestion charge has been an unmitigated success in freeing the roads up from the tedious hoi-polloi, who ought to consider themselves privileged to be crammed onto dirty, sweaty, over-crowded public transport.
Curious that Red Ken came up with such an elitist idea. Has he been invited to the Bilderbear conference where the 0.1%'ers discuss how to sh** on the rest of the world's population?